The battle of Mantinea proved that no single city—Athens,
Sparta, or Thebes—was strong enough to rule Greece. By the middle of the fourth
century B.C. it had become evident that a great Hellenic power could the not be
created out of the little, independent city-states of Greece.
A RECORD OF ALMOST CEASELESS CONFLICT
The history of Continental Hellas for more than a century
after the close of the Persian War had been a record of almost ceaseless
conflict. We have seen how Greece came to be split up into two great alliances,
the one a naval league ruled by Athens, the other a confederacy of
Peloponnesian cities under the leadership of Sparta. How the Delian League
became the Athenian Empire; how Sparta began a long war with Athens to secure
the independence of the subject states and ended it by reducing them to her own
supremacy; how the rough-handed sway of Sparta led to the revolt of her allies
and dependencies and the sudden rise of Thebes to supremacy; how Thebes herself
established an empire on the ruins of Spartan rule-- this is a story of
fruitless and exhausting struggles which sounded the knell of Greek liberty and
the end of the city-state.
Far away in the north, remote from the noisy conflicts of
Greek political life, a new power was slowly rising to imperial greatness—no
insignificant city-state, but an extensive territorial state like those of
modern times. Three years after the battle of Mantinea Philip II ascended the
throne of Macedonia. He established Hellenic unity by bringing the Hellenic
people within a widespread empire. Alexander the Great, the son of this king,
carried Macedonian dominion and Greek culture to the ends of the known world.
To this new period of ancient history we now turn.